Lyon and thoughts on languages

As I’ve mentioned before, I was traveling to Lyon from Barcelona through idBus. It was a great choice in the end. I found them through, because they were a partner company to that ride sharing platform. They do a lot of itineraries in France as well as some connections to nearer countries such as Spain and United Kingdom. For 35€ in a night coach to do around 640km with WC, wi-fi (although I was going to sleep mostly), power sockets to charge equipment and large chairs, I thought it was a cool deal. We left at 11pm of 14th April and arrived the next day around 7am. We stopped after entering France, to have our id’s checked and we did a hour stop later, to eat, stretch, etc.



During this stop I’ve met and talked with a very nice couple, Onofre and Adelaide, who were catalan (he) and italian (she), since I don’t talk catalan we talked italian. They were going to Lyon on vacations and from there to the middle of nowhere, a calm spot near a monastery, to enjoy nature and calmness. This is a portrait I made of them when we arrived and also a sneaky portrait of a gay couple who met upon arrival.

Onofre and Adelaide

Onofre and Adelaide



I have to say something, I now love Starbucks and Mcdonalds, really. Their free wi-fi has saved my ass so many times while in France. I went out of the station and started asking people if they knew somewhere with free wi-fi. Most people said they didn’t so after a while I asked if they knew a starbucks or mcdonalds and voilà, free wi-fi. I went to starbucks, had a big coffee, sat down to answer e-mails and waited for Carina to come pick me up.



We then went to Julie’s house, where they were living, through bus. It’s not far away. I was impressed by Lyon, it’s very beautiful, big and very good looking. Public transportation works very well and it’s not expensive at all. A full day ticket for bus, tram and metro goes for about 5€ which is the same as in Lisbon, with the difference being in Portugal the average salary is much lower. There are other things I think are very well thought of. For instance, if you’re currently unemployed you get real big discounts when purchasing monthly tickets for public transportation, free entrance in museums and some cultural events and other things as that. This is a great idea, because it doesn’t represent a cost at all, since most people that are short on money wouldn’t buy them anyway,  second, most of these systems are government owned, but still, it gives people a reason to be active, to move around and certainly helps, specially regarding mobility.


Julie and Carina were very kind to me throughout all my stay there. Carina took me on a small walk through the city and we saw some cool places, we even met a curious guy, who was actually portuguese descendent. Francis da Silveira was his name and we met him in a vintage/second-hand clothing store. We started talking, first in english but they then changed to french (which I must be honest, don’t understand that much) and after a while they were talking about the portuguese role in Africa and how it affected and shaped things there. He is from Togo, which was French, but still had portuguese heritage.

We met because I found his style pretty cool, so I asked if I could take a picture of him, to which he replied very seriously – No – and I said – hey, that’s fine no problem at all – but then we talked  a bit more and he agreed on it.


Francis and Carina talking

Francis and Carina talking

I’m developing some ideas about language. I guess it somehow is a problem for the supposed European Union. In a sense language dictates a very strong attachment to a nationalistic idea, it’s both a tool for communication but as well an obstacle to further integration. To make things worse, for instance english, that’s the global language by excellence is only natively spoken in one EU country, the United Kingdom, which is one of the countries that is less inclined to be part of a truly unified European Union. And I can understand why some countries don’t want to integrate it as the primary language, since that will give that language leverage and make their own languages less powerful in the global context. I understand that for german, french, and all others. Languages are tools for shaping thoughts and cultures so I understand the problem. But what if we could create a language from scratch? They said Tolkien invented a working language for his races in Lord of the Rings, why shouldn’t we be able to do that? It would make everything accessible in the same language for every person in the European Union.

who killed kenny? - street art in Lyon

who killed kenny? – street art in Lyon

European? We could put things as we like and thought fit. For instance, we could design it at our own will, with certain details that are now believed to have an impact in the way people perceive the world. I’ve talked about a Ted talk in a post before, where the properties of language are correlated to several in real life attributes, so why not design a language for instance without gendered words for most things, without a present/past/future tense and all the other cool things we seem to have discovered about it. This would also allow a full integration of the languages of European countries without the need to either impose one of the languages in use by the strongest countries in the EU (German or French), which would certainly be a real pain in the ass to do – actually I don’t think any country would agree on that – and it would also make english a third language. This could be the basis – National Language of the Country – European and then English. It’s also known by now that speaking more than one language is excellent, in many senses, specially for kids. This would be a nice project for the European Union – it seems crazy right? but if a guy invented working Elfic and the such why shouldn’t a team of linguistics be able to come up with a completely new language? And it would be a big step to integration as well, keeping particular languages alive while detaching from the English, which I very much enjoy speaking but doesn’t seem to me to be the way to go regarding European Union. If we have already started messing around with the manipulation of genetic code why not start messing with manipulation of languages. What attracts me most in this idea is that it’s something truly new and that it doesn’t impose one of the older languages over the others. It could be implemented slowly in schools and after some years it would gain a life of its own (ok, back from the dream now – and no, I’m not on drugs).



Have you seen Hanna Arendt, the movie? In one part, I don’t remember who, but someone says “You should listen to her talking in German” – referring to the fact that her thought and speech correlation was much more interesting than in English – which is something to say the least, since her thought/speech seems to be quite clear and focused in her non native language anyway.

We strolled the streets for a bit more and then we went to the Palace of Arts, where we sat in the garden benches, saw some beautiful sculptures, some of them by Rodin and talked even more.


Democritus statue by A. Delhomme. – or Micael thinking about languages and death


L’ombre ou Adam by Rodin (The Man or Adam)

Ok, I as a photographer look at an enormous amount of photography, sometimes I see fashion photography and many times I’m just like “why on earth is he/she doing that pose and putting her arms like that?” but after looking at this Adam statue I guess it’s something that goes way back in time. It’s classical after all.


Gilliatt and the Octopus by J. Carlier.

Really, this thing about languages could be something amazing. Because, you see, even when people talk the same language, a word can have different meanings to each one speaking it – it has to do with the connections that word lights up in our brains although we pretty much agree on what it means (conventions). Now imagine, when people talk different languages this gets much worse. Imagine that each state of the US had their own languages, and for instance it was in Washington and N.Y. alone that people spoke english. Would this make sense? Would it be possible to have a federation under those terms? It could be possible but probably the strength would dissolve. OH well, it’s just another crazy idea.

I didn’t think about this in Lyon of course, I was walking and enjoying the city and talking with Carina most of the times. She is an artist and she was a teacher of arts (college and high-school) back in Portugal.

These are some pictures of a recent installation by her – I may have some things to add about it in the future as I enjoyed it a lot, besides being a strong piece due to what it tackles. It’s mixed media, from real objects, to painting, sculpture and video.





View of the installation - Mixed media

View of the installation – Mixed media

On another day we went to see the city by night.


Julie works in computer and software applications – for some big clients, some in  the oil industry

We mostly strolled the city, while seeing some things. It was a pretty cool night, we had some good laughs and went back to the apartment to get a good night of sleep as Julie was waking up quite early for her work.

Saône river a night with Basilica of Notre-Dame de Fourvière on the background.

Saône river at night with Basilica of Notre-Dame de Fourvière on the background.


I think this guy was in cocaine but I'm not sure - he was quite enthusiastic and friendly 'though

I think this guy was on cocaine but I’m not sure – love his style specially the unpaired socks!

Ok - they were definitively crazy

Ok – they were definitively crazy

Julie eating ice-cream while she strikes a sexy pose

Julie eating ice-cream while she strikes a sexy pose



Passerelle du Palais de Justice bridge over the Saône river at night.

Passerelle du Palais de Justice bridge over the Saône river at night.



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